Diary of a Fantasy Madman
A Lesson in Semantics PDF Print E-mail
Diary of a Fantasy Madman
Written by Zach Steinhorn   
Sunday, 30 August 2015 00:00
For as long as I can remember, I've always been the one who others go to when they have any questions related to game rules, whether it be board games, real sports, or fantasy sports. I guess you can say that over time, I built a reputation as both logical and detail-oriented, and I like this reputation because it is true. I actually enjoy reading directions, or in the case of fantasy sports, reading league constitutions or even writing my own list of rules for the many leagues in which I have served as commissioner through the years. And that's why what happened this past week in Mixed Auction Tout Wars was so unusual.

In fact, the whole thing would not have happened if Patrick Davitt did not receive a $5 FAAB redemption for Anibal Sanchez, who is currently on the DL due to a rotator cuff strain and could very well be shut down for the rest of the season by the out of contention Tigers. To review, Tout Wars has a rule where any drafted player who lands on the DL can be released by their team and awarded their draft day price in FAAB dollars. If released prior to the All-Star break, owners will receive the full amount. After the break, the redemption amount is cut in half. Anyway, upon scanning the year-to-date list of players who were released in exchange for a FAAB redemption, I noticed Adam Wainwright had been released by Patrick back in April for $19. Then I remembered that Patrick had purchased Wainwright for $1 in the most recent FAAB run. Then I remembered a Tout rule stating that owners who received a FAAB redemption for a certain player must pay at least the amount of the redemption in order to re-acquire that player. Hmm. Shouldn't Patrick be docked an additional $18 then? So I sent an e-mail to Peter Kreutzer (aka Rotoman), who handles commish duties for our league, asking for clarification. As it turns out, this little rule even stumped me.

Peter's response: "The language in the constitution is unclear. It says an owner must bid the amount he was redeemed, which Patrick did. It doesn't address what actual price he must pay or the Vickery adjustment, so I think we have to live with the usual process here."

"I've put this on the list for offseason rules discussion."

Sure enough, here's the rule, as worded in the constitution:

"For any team owner to reclaim a player he previously redeemed, he must bid at least as many FAAB units as he reclaimed originally."

Ultimately, Peter and I agreed that the rule needed to be modified in some way for next season, as it didn't make a whole lot of sense that an owner could receive a FAAB reimbursement for a player and then re-acquire him for a lesser price. We blamed the Vickery system for the confusion. I have always preferred Vickery over straight FAAB because it adds a fun strategic element to the game, but scenarios like this one certainly expose its flaws and have me questioning my allegiance to Vickery. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if Tout Wars abandons Vickery sometime in the near future, as there seems to be a growing anti-Vickeryy sentiment within the industry.

But, Vickery tangent aside, I guess the moral of the story is that as much as you might think you know all of the rules, sometimes you don't. And for commissioners, it is very important to make sure that the wording in your league's constitution leaves little room for misinterpretation.
Last Updated on Sunday, 30 August 2015 08:23
If We Knew Then... PDF Print E-mail
Diary of a Fantasy Madman
Written by Zach Steinhorn   
Sunday, 16 August 2015 00:00

The baseball season is long. OK, you knew that already. But, to emphasize the point, I figured that now, with the 2015 campaign roughly three-quarters complete, would be a fun time to take a trip back to draft season and look at some NFBC ADP data for hitters, data that five months later seems flat-out crazy. For those of you who drafted several of these guys, well, there's always next year. Note that I'm giving a pass to players who have missed significant time due to injury. That's just bad luck.

Salvador Perez (#7 C, #112 overall) - The 16 homers through 101 games are nice, but fantasy owners were expecting a lot better than a .251 average from Perez, a career .278 hitter. In OBP leagues, his current .265 mark is a significant drain. The Royals backstop is batting .210 with only one home run since the All-Star break, so a bounce back down the stretch appears unlikely.

1B  Mark Trumbo (#13 1B, #102 overall) - I wasn't the only one who was convinced that a 30-HR season was in store for Trumbo, who would be playing half of his games in homer-friendly Chase Field. As it turned out, he was shipped to Seattle and pitcher-friendly Safeco Field in early-June and has left the yard only five times in 54 games as a Mariner.

2B  Robinson Cano (#2 2B, #20 overall) - Seattle's $240 million investment has picked things up since the All-Star break, batting .330 while already matching his first half home run total of six. But his overall stat line remains disappointing, and although there's still time for Cano to make up ground, the chances of him earning his draft day price tag are remote.

SS  Starlin Castro (#6 SS, #107 overall) - Many predicted a career year for Castro in 2015. Instead, his age-25 season has been his worst season to date. Things have gotten so bad for the Cubs shortstop that he's no longer a viable starter in mixed leagues. But hey, at least he's batting .308 in August.

3B  Adrian Beltre (#3 3B, #35 overall) - Beltre has shown some promising signs lately (.294 AVG since the All-Star break), but considering his career accomplishments and remarkable consistency, it's hard to look at his 2015 stat line (.266 AVG, 9 HR, 30 RBI through 95 games) and actually believe that these are Beltre's numbers. Is this an anomaly or is it a sign that Beltre's days as a reliable fantasy producer are over? I wish I knew the answer.

OF  Christian Yelich (#20 OF, #76 overall) - Coming off a breakout 2014 campaign, it was only logical to expect further improvement from Yelich in his second full season in the Majors, so this ADP sounded perfectly reasonable back in March. Instead, he's taken a step backwards. The good news is that it's only a small step backwards and Yelich will only be 24 years old on Opening Day 2016. I like him quite a bit as an undervalued option in drafts next spring.

OF Marcell Ozuna (#33 OF, #129 overall) - Much like his outfield mate, Ozuna was highly coveted heading into this year, and for good reason. After all, he was fresh off a stellar 2014 season in which he tallied 23 home runs and 85 RBI. But he got off to a slow start before the Marlins surprisingly sent him down to the Minors in early-July. I guess the club is satisfied with what they've seen from Ozuna because he was just called back up yesterday. He's worth a flier in deeper mixed formats and of course NL-only leagues.

OF  Leonys Martin (#34 OF, #130 overall) - As the ADP numbers prove, Martin and Ozuna were valued similarly, Martin being more of a speed specialist with developing power while Ozuna was the pure power hitter with 30-HR potential. Martin's inability to get on base consistently relegated him to platoon duty by mid-season, and the dreaded minor league demotion soon followed. And now he has a fractured hamate bone, which could mean the end of his season.

At least there's always next year.


Last Updated on Saturday, 15 August 2015 23:50
Who's to Blame? PDF Print E-mail
Diary of a Fantasy Madman
Written by Zach Steinhorn   
Sunday, 09 August 2015 00:00

What was a one-team race a couple months ago turned into a two-team race one month ago, then a three-team race, and now we have six teams with a legitimate chance to win the Tout Wars Mixed Auction league. How exactly did I lose a 20-plus point lead in the span of two months? That's what I've spent the past few days trying to figure out, and my conclusion is that it's easier than it seems. After all, a huge lead can dwindle in two ways. Either your squad goes cold or the other upper-tier teams get hot. But usually, it's a combination of both, and that's sort of what happened here.

Without boring you with the category breakdowns, let me just say that the majority of my hitters have struggled mightily of late. How bad has it been? To be honest, as much as I strive to keep close tabs on the recent performance of every player on my roster, even I was surprised upon studying the split stats and learning just how bad it has been for several of my bats. Here are the main culprits.

Brandon Moss is batting .179 with one home run, five RBI and a .225 OBP since the All-Star break

Actually, Moss' entire 2015 campaign has been one big disappointment, but it's gotten even uglier in recent weeks. At least he was putting up decent home run and RBI totals in the first half. Now, the counting stats have disappeared. Moss is streaky, and there's still time for him to at least partially salvage this lost season. Then again, I was optimistic about his trade to St. Louis, figuring that a fresh start with a contenting team could do the trick. Through eight games with the Cardinals, he's recorded four hits and one RBI.

Justin Upton is hitting .194 with six homers and 22 RBI since the beginning of June

Aside from a mediocre batting average, Upton's overall numbers are solid, and the 18 steals have been a pleasant surprise. But I did expect more consistency from my second-highest priced auction purchase. Perhaps he can put together a stellar final two months and all will be forgiven, but I'm getting the sense he may never reach his "full potential." Maybe this is who he is, a very good player, just not a superstar player.

Cameron Maybin sports a .239 OBP since the All-Star break

Look, Maybin has already given his fantasy owners way more than they expected when they plucked him off the waiver wire back in April. In other words, there's no complaining allowed. Even the most optimistic of Maybin supporters knew that his first half OBP of .356 was unsustainable. The good news is that he continues to steal bases, which keeps him mixed league relevant.

Kolten Wong is batting .224 since the All-Star break with a .283 OBP and one steal in five attempts

Well, it isn't for lack of trying. As it turns out, one of my biggest draft prep errors was projecting roughly 25 steals for Wong. Two-thirds through the season, he's on pace for 16 swipes. But even more troubling than the low stolen base total is that he is getting caught way too often. The Cardinals second baseman has recorded the lowest stolen base percentage (57.9%) among all players with double-digit steals. Anyway, through the season's first two months, Wong was making up for the lack of speed by significantly contributing in the other four categories. Now? Not so much. I do expect the batting average to bounce back, but at this point, his stolen base outlook is murky. Wong's low success rate could result in fewer green lights.

Wilson Ramos is hitting .154 with one home run, nine RBI and a .167 OBP since the All-Star break

Waiting until next year is getting old. For some reason, I keep on drafting this guy, hoping for that long-awaited breakout season. The nine homers and 47 RBI are fine, and at least he's avoided the DL this year, but a .265 OBP? Really? Ramos better rediscover his power stroke fast, because the OBP is a major drain.

I think I'm ready to give up on Ramos for future seasons.

But check back with me in March just in case I reconsider.

Last Updated on Sunday, 09 August 2015 01:52
For Better or For Worse? PDF Print E-mail
Diary of a Fantasy Madman
Written by Zach Steinhorn   
Sunday, 02 August 2015 00:00

For any baseball fan, the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline can be quite stressful. If your team is in contention, failing to add a star player in exchange for a bunch of prospects who you may or may not have heard of is simply unacceptable. On the other hand, if your team is out of the postseason race, the front office better know what it's doing when it comes to prospect evaluation.

For fantasy owners, the trade deadline comes with even more stress, as performance projections in addition to roles can change. Hitters who were receiving everyday at-bats might be relegated to part-time duty, or vice versa. Relief pitchers who were racking up saves might no longer be racking up saves, which pretty much makes them useless from a fantasy perspective unless your league uses Holds as a category. I happen to be a Drew Storen owner in two leagues. Fortunately, Tout Wars isn't one of them. While Storen owners are bummed out, Ken Giles owners are thrilled. As much as you might try to anticipate these moves weeks in advance by stashing players who could see a boost in value (Arodys Vizcaino, for example), there's simply no way to predict this stuff, which is why late-July can be such a frustrating time.

Like most of the other teams in the league, my Mixed Auction Tout Wars squad felt the effects of the trade deadline developments. Actually, the positives outweighed the negatives, but I'll start with the one major negative because more than 24 hours later, it's still annoying me. And by now, I really need to get over it.

Jim Johnson traded to Dodgers

Four saves from a $7 FAAB investment isn't bad at all, but it could've been so much more. To the average fan, Johnson's inclusion in the three-way swap between the Dodgers, Marlins and Braves might seem insignificant, but for me, it could prove to be the difference between winning the league and falling short. There are a few candidates for saves on the waiver wire this week, but with only $13 left to spend for the season, I can forget about it.

Cole Hamels traded to Rangers

For top-tier starting pitchers, a change of scenery tends to be either highly beneficial, as is usually the case with a move from the AL to the NL, or neutral. Overall, I don't see Hamels' value changing much as he goes from one hitter-friendly park to another. Maybe his ERA takes a small hit, as he will now have to deal with the DH, but a far superior supporting lineup increases his win potential. I'm calling this a wash.

Brandon Moss traded to Cardinals

Moss is a player who I targeted in all of my leagues this year, fully convinced that a 30-plus home run season was a distinct possibility now that he would no longer be playing half of his games at cavernous Coliseum. Instead, the streaky Moss has yet to put together any sort of prolonged hot streak. That said, the power potential is still there, and the Cardinals front office boasts a strong track record when it comes to reclamation gambles. I just have a feeling that a fresh start on a contending team will do him some good. I guess it's one of those Lawr Michaels/Zen things.

Mike Leake traded to Giants

After going 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA and 1.82 WHIP in May, Leake has gotten into a nice groove, and he's coming off an exceptional month of July (4-1, 1.25 ERA, 0.83 WHIP). Leake will now have the luxury of pitching his home games in spacious AT&T Park as opposed to the home run haven that is Great American Ball Park. He needs to be owned in most mixed leagues.

Brewers trade both Carlos Gomez and Gerardo Parra

No, I do not own Carlos Gomez. I don't even own Gerardo Parra. So what am I talking about? Well, I do own Khris Davis, who has played sparingly since returning from the DL, sitting against most righties. With Gomez and Parra now out of the picture, Davis will once again be an everyday player, and that means he's worth a roster spot in most mixed leagues and a starting spot in deeper formats. Don't count on a high batting average, but the power is real, and if my $2 FAAB pickup can provide me with 7-8 homers from here on out, I'll gladly take it.

Ian Kennedy remains a Padre

Whew. I had my doubts that the Padres would hang onto Kennedy, who is set to become a free agent this winter. But this non-trade means that the home run prone righty will continue to be provided with the best possible opportunity to succeed. We're talking about a guy who has already allowed 23 homers through 19 starts this season despite making ten of those starts in Petco Park. Even more perplexing is that 14 of those 23 homers were served up in San Diego. Kennedy has pitched extremely well since the beginning of June, however, registering a 2.80 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. Any trade, particularly a trade to an AL club, would have been bad news for his fantasy owners.



Last Updated on Sunday, 02 August 2015 07:24
Thinking of a Number PDF Print E-mail
Diary of a Fantasy Madman
Written by Zach Steinhorn   
Sunday, 19 July 2015 00:00

I understand the risk attached to Jim Johnson, the newly anointed Braves closer. As of Saturday morning, the Braves trail the Nationals by 6 1/2 games in the NL East and sit five games back of the second wild card spot. One more prolonged losing streak could officially signal the end of their postseason hopes and quite possibly the end of Johnson's tenure in Atlanta. Coming off a disastrous 2014 campaign, the veteran righty is enjoying a fine bounce back season, and contending teams are always looking to acquire an additional bullpen arm at the trade deadline. While Johnson does have plenty of closing experience, chances are he would slide back into a setup role for his new club, squashing his new-found fantasy value. Still, this whole trade scenario remains merely conjecture. Nothing has happened yet, and who knows, maybe nothing will happen. Right now, Johnson will be getting all of the save chances for the Braves, and that's all that matters to fantasy owners. And this is why I was so surprised when I checked the Mixed Auction Tout Wars website shortly after midnight on Thursday.

As it turned out, my $19 bid for Johnson's services was way more than enough to land him, as the next highest bid was $6. So thanks to the Vickrey system, the cost of my Johnson investment was a very reasonable $7. Something didn't seem right about this. Maybe my league mates were aware of vital information that slipped me by? Maybe Johnson sustained some sort of injury while sitting on his couch during the All-Star break? Nope. Checking the FAAB results from the Tout Wars Mixed Draft league further reassured me, as Johnson went for $37. Look, it's entirely possible that he gets traded tomorrow, but $7? And a $30 difference in price between the two 15-team mixed leagues?

This got me thinking about the FAAB process. More specifically, it got me thinking about the Vickrey system, where the highest bid gets reduced to one dollar more than the second-highest bid. All it takes is one additional aggressive bid to force the high bidder to pay a much steeper price. In the case of the Mixed Draft league, there was a $44 bid for Johnson followed by $36 and $27. In Mixed Auction Tout Wars, my $19 bid, which was more of a price-enforcing bid than an expectation of winning him, topped a $6 bid and a $1 bid. In other words, in the Mixed Draft bidding, there was clearly a higher level of interest in the player. My thoughts then wandered to the idea of looking at both leagues and comparing the most expensive FAAB purchases of the 2015 season. And that's exactly what I did. Note that N/A means that the player was not acquired via the FAAB system.


Byron Buxton 46 6/15 N/A
Jason Grilli 41 4/6 17 4/6
Brett Cecil 40 5/4 N/A
Eduardo Rodriguez 33 6/1 N/A
Taijuan Walker 33 6/1 N/A
Joey Gallo 27 6/8 26 6/8
John Axford 25 5/4 7 4/27
Ervin Santana 22 7/6 1 6/22
Blake Swihart 21 5/4 20 5/4
Maikel Franco 19 5/18 9 5/18


Jim Johnson 37 7/17 7 7/17
Joey Gallo 26 6/8 27 6/8
Jake Marisnick 25 5/4 N/A
Jeurys Familia 23 4/13 0 4/6
Miguel Castro 22 4/13 0 4/6
Blake Swihart 20 5/4 21 5/4
Addison Russell 20 4/27 1 4/13
Cameron Maybin 17 4/6 15 4/6
Jason Grilli 17 4/6 41 4/6
Justin Bour 12 6/1 6 5/25
Kyle Schwarber 12 6/22 14 7/17
Vincent Velasquez 12 6/15 10 6/15

As I thought, the Johnson price difference of 30 bucks is the largest to date, followed by Jason Grilli ($24), Jeurys Familia ($23), Miguel Castro ($22) and Ervin Santana ($21). But since timing is so important when it comes to FAAB prices, Johnson and Grilli stand out among this group being that they were each purchased in the same week in Mixed Auction Tout Wars as in Mixed Draft Tout Wars. Must be something about those Braves closers.

For his $41, Cory Schwartz ended up getting 17 saves from Grilli. If only I can get a bit more than half as much from Johnson.

One down, eight to go.

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 July 2015 02:05
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